TULSA, Okla. (AP) -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Tulsa has approved a segment of TransCanada Corp.'s Keystone XL pipeline planned to run from Cushing to Texas.
Ross Adkins, chief of public affairs for the Tulsa district, confirmed the decision Friday. If the overall project is approved by the president, the pipeline could eventually transport tar sands oil from western Canada to refineries along the Texas Gulf Coast.
TransCanada needs corps approval for its wetlands and water-crossing plans. The company awaits a similar decision from the corps' Fort Worth, Texas district.
The Obama administration shelved the project earlier this year, explaining that officials needed more time to study alternate routes that would bypass certain environmentally sensitive areas in Nebraska.
Earlier this month, the U.S. State Department announced that it would issue a final decision on the project early next year.
Russ Girling, TransCanada's president and chief executive officer, has said by the time the final decision is made on the pipeline, "Keystone XL will be well into its fifth year of exhaustive and detailed studies, the most extensive review for a cross-border pipeline ever."
"The final review should focus solely on the realigned route that avoids the Nebraska Sandhills," Girling said earlier this month. "The rest of the Keystone XL route remains the same. The geology of the route remains the same. The environmental conditions remain the same. Nothing else has changed since the (Final Environmental Impact Statement) was approved."
The pipeline has drawn fierce opposition from environmental groups such as the Sierra Club, which said the $5.3 billion pipeline is a natural disaster waiting to happen if a section were to leak and threaten the drinking water supply for millions of Americans.